I spent 22 years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit. Ask me anything
Ricky Kidd here. In 1997, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for double homicide -- a crime I didn’t commit. I had a rock-solid alibi for the day of the murders. Multiple people saw me that day and vouched on my behalf. I also knew who did it, and told this to the police. But I couldn’t afford a lawyer, and the public defender I was assigned didn’t have time or the resources to prove my innocence. I spent 22 years in prison trying to prove the things my public defender should have found in the first place. In August of this year, a judge ruled that I was innocent and released me.
And I’m Sean O’Brien, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a founding member of the Midwest Innocence Project (MIP). I was part of an MIP team that represented Ricky over the past 13 years and that eventually got him released this year. I’ve spent decades working to overturn wrongful convictions, especially for inmates on death row, and before that I was the chief public defender in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1985 through 1989.
Ricky’s story and how it illustrates the greater crisis in America’s public defender system is the subject of PBS NewsHour’s latest podcast, “Broken Justice.” It’s the story of how we built the public defender system and how we broke it. Subscribe, download and leave a comment wherever you get your podcasts: https://to.pbs.org/2WMUa8l
Ricky: It was really nice spending time with you guys today answering your questions. As we leave, I hope you will listen to PBS NewsHour's "Broken Justice" (if you haven't already). I hope you continue to follow my journey "Life After 23" on Facebook. Look out for my speaking tour "I Am Resilience," as well as one of my plays, "Justice, Where Are You?," coming in 2020 (Tyler Perry, where are you?).
And, if you would like to help, you can go to my Go Fund Me page. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, a special thanks to the entire PBS NewsHour team for great coverage and your dedication in telling this important story.
Sean: What Ricky said. Thank you for your incredible and thoughtful questions. Thank you for continuing to follow this important story.